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The Black Keys' frontman
delivers a diamond in the rough

Dan Auerbach - Keep It Hid
(Nonesuch Records)
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Feb. 24, 2009
Dan Auerbach

Review by Tony Bonyata

With five albums under his belt with his full-time blues/rock duo The Black Keys, singer and guitarist Dan Auerbach has just released his first solo effort entitled Keep It Hid. While the 29 year-old artist's music mines through much of the same musical terrain of his full-time band (country blues, '70s hard rock and even a DIY punk sensibility) the results couldn't sound more different.

Gone is the bombast of Patrick Carney's thundering drums - even on some of the heavier numbers such as the sleazy blues groove that snakes through "I Want Some More" and "Street Walkin'." In its place are songs like "The Prowl," "Heartbroken, In Disrepair" and the gritty title track that blend fuzzed-up garage rock and earthy blues with mid-'60s psychedelia. Not only did Auerbach produce and engineer the entire record, but he also played the lion's share of the instruments throughout, including drums, keys and guitars (although he did invite a handful of friends and family to also help out for various parts on the record). Commenting on the direction of this effort, Auerbach said, "I wanted a live, organic sound. Nothing was too plotted or planned, just a lot of spontaneity." And with the heavier numbers already mentioned, along with songs steeped in deep Southern soul ("Real Desire") and tender folk numbers that sound like they were hand delivered from the mountains ("Goin' Home," "Trouble Weighs A Ton" and the pretty "Whisper Words," a song which Auerbach's father originally wrote), spontaneous it is.

While he could have easily turned in a heavier hitting rock album more in the vein of The Black Keys, Auerbach has instead offered us an insightful glimpse into his more soulful and, at times, even softer side with this unpolished, yet beautiful diamond in the rough.

Related articles:

The Black Keys Concert review - Milwaukee, WI - Sept. 2008
The Black Keys Concert review - Chicago, IL - Nov. 2006

Watch Dan Auerbach perform "Trouble Weighs A Ton"

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